09 Jul Meet Melanie Hughes
I recently found out that my great grandmother, a woman intensely afraid of storms, would tell stories to quiet the fear zipping through her mind with the lightning in the sky. As she quaked with the thunder, it was story after story after story that freed her from dread. I never knew her, but there is a gentle excitement in knowing that we were alike in this way.
When I was young, I too used stories to free me from my fears. When emotions and thoughts felt too intimate to speak aloud, I would express them on a page. Anger, anticipation, gratitude, frustration, longing, questions—nothing was off limits and all of it could be found in my journals of first or second grade. Writing became a response as natural as laughing when happy or sneezing with a cold. Not only were new worlds now at my fingertips, but so was meaning and metaphor and patterns and poetry. So, like my great grandmother, I too told story after story after story. Each time without fail, I felt lighter.
Because of this genuine and joyful passion, I decided to learn all I could in this corner of the artistic world and major in English – Creative Writing at Auburn University. During this program, my writing and photography have been published in four different literary magazine issues. Now a rising senior graduating in May of 2020, a distinct memory from my time in college often comes to me from when my five roommates and I were watching a new movie. It was no Kubrick or Coppola or Spielberg—in fact I think it might have been a Hallmark Christmas movie—but without necessarily meaning to, I kept predicting storylines, amending odd filmmaking choices, and guessing dialogue.
The friend to my right expressed passionately after one of my comments, “Melanie, I can’t wait for you to direct a film one day.” She had told me this a number of times, but for some reason, while watching the cheesiest type of romance, I began to actually allow that exclamation to settle deeper and brush against dreams I had long since written off as unrealistic and locked away in the dusty file drawers of my heart.
In elementary and middle school, my friends and I made “little movies” together. Reversing the footage of a breaking bottle could send us in fits of energetic screams, propelling us on to make another music video or write another script. Moving onto high school, I took classes in video production and theater, began working on my school’s news show, and acted in school plays. In college, I used my electives to learn film history and basics of the field. For some sad reason though, despite always loving film and TV deeply, I had limited my creative self and always set the entertainment industry as an impossible career to get into.
But this summer, with my roommate’s encouragement still ringing in my ears, I decided to at least try the beginning pursuits of a quiet dream I had suppressed for so long. You and I obviously know how this worked out, because we are reading and writing this very post (so exciting!). I am honestly still in shock that I am an intern at Third Rail Studios this summer and truthfully, I couldn’t be more grateful or eager to learn.
To close, all I will say is that storytelling—in any of its forms, in writing or acting or speaking, from a great grandmother in a storm shelter or in the tattered journals of childhood— is something so truly woven into my core. If the same thread that weaves it into mine, is also in yours, I sincerely hope the dreams that dance alongside this love are not cast aside but leaned further and further into